Abdominal benches are workout benches that make it possible to target the muscles found in the abdomen. The design of this type of stomach bench lends itself well to all sorts of exercises that help to strengthen and tone the muscles in the middle section of the body, while also providing a workout that helps to minimize the amount of fat stored in the mid-section. The construction of the abdominal bench usually also provides a comfortable and sturdy surface that makes it possible to work other groups of muscles while toning and strengthening the abdominals.
The basic design for an abdominal bench is simple. The frame is usually made of metal tubing, often steel. Along with the frame, a heavy plywood platform, known as the board, serves as the work surface. The board is usually covered with padding and some type of vinyl upholstery, making the board comfortable and easy to clean.
Generally, the frame will include foot rollers at one end of the board. The rollers make it possible to wrap the feet around the rollers and maintain balance and form while working out. Often, the abdominal board will also include a panel and set of pins that make it possible to incline the board to six or eight different levels. This makes it possible to adjust the angle of the board and apply more tension to the abdominal muscles, further encouraging their development.
While the frame for an abdominal bench is made of steel tubing, the overall bench is relatively lightweight. Even more sophisticated designs tend to weigh less than 80 pounds, or 36.29 kilograms. Many benches weigh no more than 30 pounds, or 13.61 kilograms.
In terms of support, the typical abdominal bench will support anywhere from 250 pounds (113.4 kilograms) to 600 pounds (272.16 kilograms). This means that the bench can easily be used while lifting weights, or engaging in some type of resistance exercises with a partner.
One of the advantages of an abdominal bench is that it makes it possible to gain more benefit from exercise, without putting too much stress on any one muscle group. For example, doing sit-ups on an abdominal bench that has been set to a slight incline will be much more effective in terms of working the stomach muscles, while minimizing the amount of stress placed on the back muscles. This translates into less potential for straining or otherwise damaging one group of muscles while working the abs.
The bench can also be used while working out with free weights. Small dumbbells and other weights can be incorporated into leg lifts, arm crunches, and sit-ups easily and safely. The addition of the weights help to increase tension on the muscles, and thus add to the toning effects of the workout.